Egypt opens Gaza border for two days

A Palestinian woman takes part in a protest calling for the Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah Border Crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on March 22, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 23 March 2018
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Egypt opens Gaza border for two days

GAZA CITY: Egypt opened its largely sealed border with the Gaza Strip on Friday for two days, Palestinian authorities said.
In just the third such opening this year, the crossing between the Palestinian enclave and Egypt’s Sinai region will be open Friday and Saturday for humanitarian cases, the Palestinian embassy in Cairo said.
The Rafah crossing is the only exit for Gaza residents except into Israel, but Egypt has largely sealed it in recent years, citing security threats.
Egyptian authorities have a poor relationship with Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas, whom they have accused of supporting attacks inside Egypt.
Both of the two previous border openings this year were cut short due to the security situation in Sinai.
The Egyptian army and police forces are engaged in a fierce conflict with armed Islamists, especially in the North Sinai governorate where an Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State is active.
Hundreds have been killed on both sides.
For more than a decade, Israel has imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza that critics say amounts to collective punishment of the coastal territory’s two million Palestinian residents.
Israel says the blockade is necessary to isolate Hamas, with which it has fought three wars since 2008.
Egypt has also kept the Rafah crossing largely closed for several years.
In October, Egypt brokered a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah, the party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, that was supposed to see the Islamists give up power in Gaza.
But the deal has collapsed, with the two Palestinian groups trading blame.


UN, Palestinians launch humanitarian appeal after funding cuts

Updated 34 min 35 sec ago
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UN, Palestinians launch humanitarian appeal after funding cuts

  • The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan outlined 203 projects to be carried out by 88 different groups
  • The plan prioritized 1.4 million Palestinians most in need of food, health care, shelter, water and sanitation

JERUSALEM: The United Nations and the Palestinian Authority on Monday appealed for $350 million in humanitarian relief for Palestinians next year, saying that they needed more but had to be realistic in the face of “record-low” funding.
The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan outlined 203 projects to be carried out by 88 different groups, including UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.
The plan prioritized 1.4 million Palestinians most in need of food, health care, shelter, water and sanitation, said Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“Humanitarian actors are facing unprecedented challenges, including record-low funding and a rise in attacks to delegitimize humanitarian action,” he said in a joint statement issued on Monday, ahead of the appeal’s launch in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Although “much more assistance is needed,” McGoldrick said, the plan was “reflecting what we can realistically accomplish in this highly constrained context.”
Over the past year, the United States has slashed its funding to the Palestinians, including to the UN agency that provides services to 5 million Palestinian refugees.
The United States promised $365 million to the agency in 2018, but paid only a first instalment of $60 million before announcing in August that it would halt all future donations.
The move was widely seen as a means of pressuring the Palestinian leadership to enter peace negotiations with Israel.
The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem — territories that Israel captured and occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.
US-brokered peace talks between the sides collapsed in 2014 and a bid by US President Donald Trump to restart them has so far showed little progress.
Around 77 percent of the funds sought in the 2019 plan would go to Gaza, the appeal organizers said, because the densely populated coastal strip faced a “dire humanitarian situation” after years of an Israeli-led blockade, internal Palestinian political divisions and casualties from demonstrations and recurring hostilities.
“The humanitarian context in the oPt (Occupied Palestinian Territories) is still deteriorating due to the Israeli occupation violations in a time of lack of resources and declining funds because of the politicization of the humanitarian aid,” Palestinian Social Development Minister Ibrahim Al-Shaer said in the statement.